By Owen Sanborn, @owensanborn
Earlier this week, Danny Ecker reported via Twitter that the United Center had completed construction on an LED ribbon board behind the iconic Michael Jordan statue in front of the arena.
The board will provide a new avenue for the United Center to pursue with potential sponsors, and given the visibility and appeal of the statue to both locals and visitors, it could prove to be a financial coup for all parties involved.
The statue, along with two additional LED boards, are housed within a new 19,000 square-foot atrium complex located just outside the arena. Jordan's statue is set to act as a vehicle to generate interest and bring fans into a complex filled with new dining options, office space, and a 10,000 square-foot Bulls and Blackhawks team shop.
"We're using it as a foundation to generate interest in the atrium itself," United Center Vice President of Business affairs Joe Myhra told ChicagoBusiness.com. "We see visitors from all over the country and all over the world who visit that statue."
And that last point is perhaps the one that the United Center will be able to leverage the most when negotiating a price with prospective sponsors: The statue is renowned locally, but plenty of tourists flock to the scene to snap their own memory with it.
As those memories are getting captured and shared, there is a great chance that the sponsor's brand is getting captured and shared along with it.
Shares are the ultimate social currency, and associating your brand with an iconic athlete on the scale of Jordan is a quick way to accrue brand equity with consumers. Showcasing a steep return on investment (either via sales or psychic income) is paramount for the United Center to get the most bang for their buck.
As Ecker highlights in his tweet, the unveiling of the ribbon comes on the heels of the Chicago Cubs placing the Toyota logo on their storied marquee in front of the stadium. The Cubbies have struck relationships with different partners for this space, namely Budweiser during the 1980s.
Both of these ventures outline unique ways that clubs are piercing additional revenue streams by utilizing extensions of their facilities as assets.